The Jeff Dunham Show

The Jeff Dunham Show

On DVD: 
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jeff Dunham’s a funny dude. His ventriloquist skills (coming from someone who has no experience/talent/abilities in that area) are top-notch and he’s used this old school talent to great effect in his stand-up specials. I died laughing the first time I saw his Ahmed the Dead Terrorist bits and I love his take on the old curmudgeon character with Walter. Hilarious stuff.

But here’s the problem: Because ventriloquism is his shtick, he needs to keep inventing new characters as part of his material; otherwise the characters themselves just start getting old. In the same way that other comedians have to keep pushing themselves to write new jokes, Dunham has to start coming out with some new characters soon. Why? Because unfortunately, these guys are starting to feel a bit played out. The Jeff Dunham Show is a nice idea on paper. Let’s unleash this guy and his box of dummies on the real world and see what happens! And to be honest, I was pretty hopeful about the results.

Sadly, this format pales in comparison to Dunham’s stand-up. And potentially, the format itself might be to blame. Not all comedy is built for the pacing of a TV show, and not all stand-up lends itself to a sitcom format. Granted, this show in particular is more of a skit-based comedy, but for some reason, most of it just fell flat for me. Yeah there are a few chuckles here and there, but most of it feels worn-out and rather predictable. We’ve seen these characters before and in Dunham’s capable hands (and voice), they’ve been hilarious. For instance, Ahmed is a great character concept, but nearly every skit here involving him feels like merely an extension of the “SILENCE! I KEEL YOU!” joke.

Which brings us back to the question of the characters. We’re in a loop now, much like the chicken and the egg. Is it the characters that caused the problem or the format of the show? The answer is: yes. Hopefully Dunham has some new tricks up his sleeve, because this was mostly disappointing. I really hope he’s got something cool cookin’, as I dig the guy’s sense of humor and I love the fact that he’s using a talent that’s not often seen in comedy these days. Here’s hoping the next outing is a return to form.

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook